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Gaylord Entertainment Co. (NYSE: GET) today announced that it has agreed to sell the Gaylord Hotels brand and the rights to manage its four hotels to Marriott International, Inc. (NYSE: MAR) for $210 million in cash. Following consummation of the sale, Gaylord will continue to own its hotel properties and other businesses and will reorganize and elect to be treated as a real estate investment trust (REIT) effective January 1, 2013. The Company will be the only lodging REIT focused primarily on group-oriented destination hotels in urban and resort markets.
The transaction announced today is the result of a comprehensive review of strategic options to maximize long-term value for shareholders. In concluding to pursue this option, the Board of Directors and management team focused on three elements: the cash received in connection with the sale of the brand and management rights, the opportunity to realize substantial cost savings and revenue enhancements due to Marriott’s scale and reach in the hospitality market, and the Company’s positioning as a well capitalized REIT focused on group-oriented destination hotels in urban and resort markets.
Colin V. Reed, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer stated, “We are pleased to be announcing today a transaction that we believe allows shareholders the potential to realize maximum long-term value for their shares in Gaylord Entertainment. Our months-long review of various options led us to the conclusion that the REIT structure represents the best pathway to realize the long-term value of our business and to position the Gaylord brand for continued growth.
“The REIT structure allows us to benefit from a more efficient tax structure, and establish a platform to grow our distinct asset base through organic growth of our existing portfolio and, in time, through strategic acquisitions. Moreover, we believe that by working with Marriott International, our shareholders will benefit from significant property efficiencies and corporate overhead reductions, as well as revenue synergies which include Marriott’s ability to attract and market to large group customers. Based on our analysis to date, we anticipate annualized cost synergies, net of management fees, will total approximately $33 to $40 million. In addition, we believe we will have a unique competitive position in the hospitality REIT marketplace with a well capitalized balance sheet and a relatively predictable FFO (funds from operations) stream.”